Greenhouse Construction Update: The Beginning

July 31, 2012

Mount Auburn Cemetery’s Board of Trustees gathered with officials from Watertown and Cambridge to break ground at the site of the Cemetery’s new greenhouse on Thursday, June 14, 2012. Replacing Mount Auburn’s existing 41-year- old facility, the new greenhouse will greatly reduce energy demands while improving Mount Auburn’s ability to propagate historically- and ecologically-appropriate plantings for its nationally significant landscape.   Among the features of the new facility are open-roof venting, computerized climate controls, and an underground 30,000 gallon cistern for collecting water off the greenhouse roof to be used to irrigate the plants being propagated inside.

The Cemetery’s current greenhouses already reflect Mount Auburn’s commitment to practice the most ecologically sound maintenance practices. In the past several years, the Cemetery’s greenhouse staff has replaced the use of chemical pesticides with beneficial insects, increased its production of compost and compost teas for use in the greenhouse and on the grounds, and employed companion plants in its cut flower gardens to reduce insect and disease problems. The new greenhouse facility will allow Mount Auburn to expand its sustainable maintenance practices and allow these practices to then be shared with other botanic gardens, landscape professionals, and home gardeners.

The construction of Mount Auburn’s new greenhouse is the first phase in the Cemetery’s long term vision for a new Horticulture Center. The project has been funded through a combination of fundraising and institutional support. The Center will include classroom and community meeting space, new offices for the Cemetery’s horticultural staff, and expanded facilities for the Cemetery’s growing volunteer program.  Designed by the Boston architectural firm of William Rawn Associates, the Horticulture Center is planned to achieve the highest level of certification (Platinum) from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council.

The project, managed by Consigli Construction Co., Inc., will begin in June with the demolition of a small house, once occupied by the Cemetery’s gardener, and its existing greenhouse facility both located along Grove Street in Watertown. The construction of the new greenhouse will begin later this summer.  The project will be completed in December of this year.

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